The commute: that long, nightmarish trip through traffic jams and packed train carriages, followed by eight hours sat at your desk. For many of us, this less-than-perfect situation is a thing of the past. This is because the remote workforce is on the rise.
Global Workplace Analytics have studied the data and found that between 20 and 25% of workers telecommute, using web and video conferencing, working remotely via an internet connection, at least some of the time. What's more, this figure is expected to grow significantly in the near future.
In this new landscape, there are things which must be taken into consideration. For example, you need to keep your workers connected and productive and make sure they stay on task even when they are far from your office. This can only be facilitated by the right technological support, to promote high levels of communication in your workforce.
As your business grows, you may find your remote workforce expanding too. With teams based in different locations around the world, and with the ability to source and deploy talent wherever it is found, your business will have the agility it always dreamed of.
But this remote talent may place certain demands upon your business, for example by requiring flexible schedules and work platforms. Now we begin to see what, in order to properly unlock the advantages of remote work, we need the right technological support.
Here are 7 ways in which technology can impact your workforce, and help you get the very best out of remote teams.
Flexible storage and access via cloud-based networks
Cloud is no longer the future; it is the present, and your remote workforce cannot live without it. Can you imagine having to post documents across the world every time you needed to work collaboratively with a remote team? Cloud-based networks eliminate this need, providing a secure and effective point of contact for all teams who require it.
Audio conferencing for communication and meetings across the world
Just because your remote teams are stationed in various different locations across the world doesn't mean that communication needs to break down. In fact, with modern audio conferencing technology options, it's simple to maintain high levels of communication, even over long distances. The result is your organisation saves time and travel expenses, without losing out on agility and flexibility in the global market.
Instant messaging keeping teams connected
Conducting long and technical conversations over email can be difficult, not to mention frustrating when one party simply stops replying. With instant messaging, it's a little different. Messages and actions are received and recorded in real time, so the recipient can read the message without delay.
Face-to-face communication with web and video conferencing
The remote teams you deploy can get the benefit of face-to-face communication while remaining in the field by using web or video conferencing. Team memebers can easily join the meeting, and everyone can use webcams, collaborate on documents and share screens to further enhance communication.
Time tracking to support accountability
Time-tracking applications are a critical part of business, particularly when a remote workforce is involved. This technology is not so much about checking up on your remote teams as it is about fostering an atmosphere of mutual accountability and tracking project efficiency. Integrate time trackers into your daily working practices and make sure that your hours worked are visible to employees too.
Demonstrable increases in productivity
It's official - regardless of old stereotypes and prejudices - remote work increases productivity across the board. Studies have found that enabling employees to work from home or to work from a remote location outside the office for nine months reaped a 13.5% increase in productivity. Another study discovered that 91% of remote workers described themselves as 'more productive' when working from home.
A healthier, happier workforce
The spectre of stress, anxiety and mental health issues looms large over the Australian workforce and is responsible for significant amounts of lost time, lost productivity and damage to employee wellbeing each and every year. Much of this is down to the conditions of working in an office environment, and the difficulties associated with managing pressure. In a study conducted by computing manufacturers Dell, 46% of remote employees reported feeling less stressed, getting more sleep, and experiencing increased levels of general wellbeing. This, of course, has wide-ranging benefits for your organisation.
Without the right technology in place to support teams in the field, you risk missing out on the advantages offered by the remote workforce. Don't let this happen. Instead, support this global trend, and your staff members, by adopting a careful and considered approach to technology, and giving your teams the resources they need.